Colorado Defensive Preview

Colorado's defense has struggled for the majority of the season. Read on for a closer look at why, the keys to scoring for Arizona, and more.

There's no denying that Colorado's defense has struggled mightily this season. Although the offense has consistently out-gained its opponents, a closer look reveals a Colorado defense that is allowing 6.5 yards per play.

A big part of that number is that Colorado is allowing nearly 200 rush yards per game and a ridiculous 5.6 yards per carry.

Redshirt freshman Derek McCartney leads Colorado with four sack. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound end is probably the closest thing the Buffs have to a consistent pass rusher, but he also only has 24 tackles on the season.

The other end spot is held by 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore Jimmie Gilbert. He has 26 tackles, but only one sack and struggles to get much push due in large part to his weight and lack of overall strength.

The defensive tackles are much bigger, led by 6-foot-3, 325-pound junior Josh Tupou. His job doesn't really go beyond filling the gaps and although Colorado has struggled with the run, he is probably the best defensive tackle Colorado has. The other starting tackle is 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior Juda Parker, who has one sack to go along with 22 tackles.

After leading Colorado in tackles last season, current sophomore linebacker Addison Gillam has struggled a bit this season. He is questionable for Saturday's game because of a virus and if he does not play, it will be a major loss.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound backer has 57 tackles, six of which are for loss. Should he play, Colorado will use him in a variety of roles in order to disrupt Arizona's offense.

Kenneth Olugbode is third on the team in tackles with 58 and only has one tackle for loss. Woodson Greer is listed as the starter, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior has a limited impact. When looking at the linebackers, Brady Daigh is likely to have a bigger impact, as he has 31 tackles, four coming for loss.

Cornerback Greg Henderson has the most experience in Colorado's secondary. He currently has 42 tackles and leads the Buffs with 13 pass breakups, but isn't the type of guy to force a turnover.

The other corner spot goes to 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior Kenneth Crawley, who is second with ten pass breakups. Yet, he too is another corner that does not have an interception this season.

In fact, the only Buff that does have an interception is 6-foot-0, 200-pound strong safety Tedric Thompson. He missed the UCLA game with a concussion, but Mike MacIntyre is hopeful he and his three interceptions will be back for the Arizona game.

Sophomore Chidobe Awuzie leads Colorado with 64 tackles. He has also played the most plays for the Buffs, but his numbers could be a bit deceiving because a safety leading a team in tackles usually means the defensive line and linebackers aren't doing their jobs.

Players to Watch

#44, LB Addison Gillam: If he is able to get healthy, Gillam is going to have an impact. He would easily be leading the team in tackles if he was able to stay healthy and is probably the most likely to make a play for the Buffs.

#95, DE Derek McCartney: Colorado doesn’t have many pass rushers, but McCartney is the closest thing to one. It will be up to him to play with high energy, because he really has no help.

#9, SS Tedric Thompson: The Buffs only have three interceptions this season and they are all from Thompson. He isn't necessarily that good in coverage, but is one of the few Colorado defenders Arizona needs to be careful of.

Keys to the Game

Don’t turn the ball over: Colorado’s defense tends to struggle each game, so Arizona should be able to move the ball at will. Avoiding costly turnovers will be key, as that will be the only way Colorado figures to stop Arizona.

Get the run game going: No disrespect to Anu Solomon, but Arizona's offense is considerably better when it runs the ball. This is the perfect opportunity to force Colorado to load the box and then pick it apart through the air.

Catch the ball: Yes, we know it may sound silly, but this is the kind of game Arizona needs to get back on track. First and foremost, that means catching the ball. It’s impossible to explain just how bad the wide receivers were against UCLA. Look for the unit to make an emphatic statement against Colorado.


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